Dos Pedales: Living La Vida Locomotora in Seville

Just back from a short sightseeing holiday in Seville, and what a delight it was to have my first city bike hire scheme experience in this beautiful, strange and beguiling city. I’ve never used a city bike hire scheme before so maybe this is old news to you, but here’s my recommended do’s and don’ts with the Sevici bike hire scheme. ¡Viajes felices!

Seville by bicycle is perfect for:

  1. Appreciating the man-made and natural beauty of the city of Sevilla. The city centre has some of the best bike infrastructure I’ve used. Just follow the green tarmac snaking its’ way through more built-up areas of the city (making sure to keep to the right), or use the main carriageways in the suburbs. Particular cycle-friendly highlights include the north bank of the Guadalquivir river, where throngs of locals and tourists pitch up on the grass slopes to picnic and watch the sun set over skyscapes influenced heavily by Middle Eastern and Moorish architecture; and the ample gardens around the Plaza d’España, where you’ll coast along palm tree-lined boulevards with street performers, tourists riding open-topped horse-pulled carriages and the occasional parakeet.
  2. Going out to drinks, dinner, picnic, park… dynamo-charged lights and a bell come as standard, meaning you can use your rental confidently at night. A step-through design means if you want to wear that fabulous, flowing, full-length flamenco dress on board… you go for it, señorita. An enormous basket upfront means you can take all manner of gubbins with you (I managed to fit the whole of my hand luggage – just about – into the basket on my way to the bus station). NB the more weight you put into the basket, the more cumbersome the steering becomes. Que challenge!
  3. Getting around on a shoestring. At time of writing, the cost of hiring a Sevici city bike for any period up to a week was €13.33 up front then €1/hour of each use, with the first 30 minutes of each journey completely free. NB the service does require a €150 retainer, which is released at the end of the week’s rental period.
  4. Feeling like a true international boss. The service is so easy to use that within five minutes you’ll be fooling the world that you’re a true Sevillana/o. Instructions for use are available on the terminal at each bike station – there’s hundreds of them dotted around the city – with information available in English, German and Italian as well as Spanish.

A few little things to bear in mind though…

  1. Getting around Seville by bike is great fun, but it’s not always faster than walking. There are a lot of one-way systems around the city which might make your journey on two wheels much longer than the crow flies. You will likely need to give yourself more time than suggested on any journey-planning app as these won’t take into account the fact that many streets are cobbled, or that the bikes are heavy and a bit cumbersome (the upside to this being that they’re sturdy and ready to take on those aforementioned cobbles). Some routes are in the main pedestrianised (although you can take your bike on them) but if they’re in the middle of a shopping or restaurant district you might be overwhelmed by crowds which make cycling these routes impossible. There’s also the high probability of missing a turn and getting completely lost in this labyrinthine paradise…
  2. Even a well-worn cycle route may be spontaneously unnavigable at certain times of year due to special events. It may be just the time of year I visited, but over the course of a four day trip our journeys were thwarted by the Seville marathon, a pre-Easter crucifixion observance, and perhaps most bizarrely of all, a brotherhood of around 25 strapping men practicing for an annual penance of carrying a great wooden pedestal on their shoulders, using their sixth cervical vertebra as the crux of the structure’s weight – because it’s the “least likely to cause permanent injury”, I’m told – for a total of eight hours in the punishing late spring Andalucian heat.
  3. At peak times, check that your chosen Sevici bike station has bikes, or bike docking spaces available! The Sevici website has a bike station locator with live updates of bicycle / bike parking availability. Fighting for the last free bike dock in a popular part of town can feel like being the toreador in the bullring.
  4. You won’t get a helmet or a bike lock with your rental. Bike locking is not an issue within the city where docking stations are abundant but may be more important to consider if you take your bike out of the city centre.

As always, I receive no payment or perks for mentioning goods or services on my blog. If I recommend something it’s because I’ve tried it and loved it!

23 February, 2020

Photo credit: Siobhan McDonnell

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